I should have known that the last few days have been too easy. And that expecting sunny weather three days running in Scotland is foolish at best. Today just proved that in spades. There was a strong headwind from the northeast, combined with heavy rain that lasted for the first 51 miles. At times, such as when we were crossing the Donoch and Cromarty Firths, the wind howling in off the sea was enough to make the rain sting, and reduce any forward pace to a crawl.
About half way through the day, we stopped at a lovely coffee shop in Tain, had a bit of lunch, and relaxed for a few minutes (kudos to the proprietor for not tossing the six of us out – we were all dripping wet and somewhat objectionable by this point). But the experience of having to put wet clothes back on, walk out into the rain, and get on the bikes and cycle was just plain horrible.
We’d originally agreed to meet the ladies & children at Golspie for lunch. This town has an ‘award winning’ beach, and is three quarters of the way through the day. It would have been ideal. Except that, due to the wind, we made such slow pace that we only got there well after 1pm. And were too exhausted to do much besides have a cup of hot chocolate and a brownie. And besides, who goes on a beach in a howling raining gale? Not even the Scots are that crazy.
But after that, it got a bit easier – the rain eased off and stopped, and the final 17 miles weren’t quite so bad, knowing that they were the last. Helmsdale finally arrived, and we checked into the youth hostel for the penultimate evening of the trip.
So – just one more day, with about 50-odd miles to go. If it’s anything like today, it’ll be a long 50 miles. Followed by a drive to Glasgow for an overnight stop before doing the rest of the drive back on Wednesday.
A few more things first. I was quite amused by a news report a couple of days ago saying how the Scottish potato harvest is so poor this year. Apparently, it’s been too cold and too wet for the tatties to grow properly. I’m just amazed that they think it noteworthy to mention that Scotland is cold and wet. You’d think that they’d pick a crop that would grow in those conditions.
Then, those brownies deserve another mention. Apart from the miraculous brownies served up by the Italian Club in Milnerton, these are the best I’ve had in a long time. Context probably has something to do with this favourable review, but if you’re ever in Gollspie, and find yourself in the coffee shop behind the parking lot in the centre (I forget the name of the place), have the brownie. They’re at least as good as the ones at Hampton Court palace.
Here’s the map – unfortunately I forgot to record the middle bit from Tain to Golspie. I’m sure you’ll forgive me.